Role of Navy in Disaster Management
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TOPIC: General Studies 3
- Disaster and disaster management.
- Security challenges and their management in border areas
Today, Indian Navy is one of most potent maritime forces in the world and certainly most lethal in Indian Ocean. Indian navy is not only responsible for the security of the nation and its seas but has also come forward and served the humanity in times of crisis. The recent example was cyclone which created havoc in Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep where the Indian navy deployed 10 ships and rescued around 150 people.
Indian navy and disaster management
Humanitarian disaster reliefs has become one of the major roles of the navy. The Indian navy very frequently counters cyclones in Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. Though the relief management is the responsibility of National Disaster Management Authority, the Indian navy because of its training and capability is always the first responders. Some of the examples are:
- In 2007- cyclone Sidr hit Bangladesh
- In 2009- cyclone Nargis hit yangon
- In 2015- cyclone Hudhud hit vizag which is a naval base and HQ of eastern naval command. The navy capability also suffered due to such severe cyclone.
- In 2015- Chennai floods- 4 ships from Vishakhapatnam were sent to Chennai with generator, clothing and all disaster relief material.
Indian Navy knows that is has to provide humanitarian disaster relief and coordinate with other agencies. Thus, Indian navy is equipped with disaster relief materials. So to respond to the situation in the least time, these ships are loaded with disaster relief supplies. For the first time in Bay of Bengal, there is an exercise in which countries of this region are getting together for exercising humanitarian disaster relief and search and rescue operation. The International Multilateral Maritime Search and Rescue Exercise (IMMSAREX), is the first ever operational exercise held under the aegis of Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) in Bangladesh.
The Indian Navy’s humanitarian role also manifests in the many evacuation operations from countries in the grip of political turmoil and rapidly deteriorating security conditions that Indian warships have undertaken in recent years. In April 2015, Indian ships were involved in the safe evacuation of over 2,000 Indian expatriates as well as many foreigners from an intense combat zone in Yemen. Indian naval ships have previously carried out rescue missions in Libya, Lebanon and Somalia too.
Indian navy has a fleet of 140 ships. The ratio of big ships is higher- commissioning of destroyers, Kochi class, Shiwalik class, Delhi class, Rajput class, modern corvettes, Kamorta class.
Much of Indian naval ships are indigenously designed and built. Many ships have good sea legs, can remain at sea for long time, they have capability to network through own satellite Rukmani and there is maritime capability perspective plan in place to build more ships as per requirement.
‘Neighbour first’ at the seas
The Indian navy considers the area around the Indian Ocean as its primary areas of interest. Areas which are beyond it are secondary areas of interests. At any given time, the Indian naval ships are operating in the Gulf of Aden, Persian Gulf, Bay of Bengal, Indian ocean, Malacca strait and atleast once or twice a year go through Malacca strait to South China Sea visiting Australia and New Zealand.
Indian navy considers itself as net provider of security for smaller countries who are unable to look after their EEZ. There is regular EEZ surveillance of countries like Mauritius, Seychelles, Maldives. They have small land area but big EEZ.
Tsunami in 2004 brought about a sea change in understanding humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. India has always helped its smaller neighbours. But it was tsunami which drove the realization, the immediate neighbour is the one which can respond the quickest.
There may be big navies in the region but they are not going to come to help because geographically they are far away. Indonesia, Myanmar, Maldives, Sri Lanka realized how India as a country responded to the requirements during disaster and provided help in form of sending ships, army personnel and bringing situation under control.
Special sea exercises are being conducted. SAMBANDH- organized by Bangladesh of IONS. Here, a naval exercise that will see participation from officers of 10 nations – stretching from Oman in the west to Malaysia in the east – to be carried out on the West Coast.
IONS was staretd by Indian navy in 2008, 23 countries of the region are members. So far there was charter of business but first time a field exercise is organized and credit to Bangladesh.
Goa maritime conclave
It was a unique conference of maritime partners in providing a platform to deliver on collaborative strategies and to mitigate regional challenges. It aimed its focus at emerging maritime threats and force structuring, maritime domain awareness, maritime security architecture, and maritime security challenges in the IOR. These kind of platforms add to the operational preparedness and also HADR.
Interference from extra-regional navies is not good for the regional countries. China is seeking base facilities in many countries around the world. The countries have to remain united to provide maritime security.
India has big EEZ. With its continental shelf, the area at sea is equal to area on land. 90% of the trade is through sea. India has to be sure that the sea lanes are open and there are friendly neighbours around. There is a need for strong maritime force- includes Indian navy, merchant marine, good ports, and good hinterland activity. The navy is on path of self-reliance through indigenization. India builds ships of all classes- aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates, corvettes and DRDO to meet needs of weapons.
Indian Ocean Region is becoming more important and Indian Ocean countries have to realize the importance of these waters and contribution each country must make and stay united.
Story of Navy Day- On 4th December 1971, 5 ships – INS Nipat, INS Nirghat, INS Veer, INS Kiltan and INS Katchall, went close to Karachi harbor and set the Pakistani warships and merchant ships ablaze. They also set the Karachi refinery ablaze causing lot of damage and reducing war fighting ability of the Pakistani navy and the nation.
Connecting the dots:
- Critically evaluate the Indian Navy’s importance in respect to India’s internal as well as external security.